Hollywood loves weddings. Plunk a starlet in the midst of wacky wedding chicanery and you’ve got gold, whether she’s bride or bridesmaid. Only occasionally do they concern themselves with making the film funny, giving it a cohesive plot structure, or fleshing out characters who don’t make you want to pop out for a quick vomit by the 20th minute. But I’m finding that as a bride I’m putting these things on heavy rotation in the DVD player. They’ve taken on a whole new dimension. I’m snorting at weddings thrown by middle class characters that would have budgets of about $150,000 if thrown in the real world. I’m leaning in closer to the screen to mull the relative merits of a gown’s train length in another. The point is: like a meringue-covered car crash, I can’t look away. Of course I’ve decided to squeeze some blog fodder out of them while I’m at it. First up,
My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997)
It seems prudent to start with a wedding movie I actually like, so as to establish some sort of benchmark. Plus, starting with oh, say, The Wedding Planner would be self-defeating as that movie makes me want to punch myself in the face repeatedly and if I did that I wouldn’t be able to see the screen well enough to determine if spellcheck had caught the extra ‘s’ I accidentally put in ‘asstastic.’ Setting aside my abject horror upon realizing My Best Friend’s Wedding came out 10 years ago, I have to confess that I find it funny and touching. Also, it scores bonus points for being about journalists, having a reference to how sportswriting means you have to go to “places like College Station, Texas,” and for having one of the most oddly mesmerizing opening credits sequences courtesy of Dusty Springfield and a director who clearly had his tongue planted firmly in his cheek about that upon which he was embarking.
In a nutshell, Julia Roberts plays a writer who learns that her journalist best friend (the excessively easy on the eyes Dermot Mulroney) is getting married out of the blue to a perky socialite played by Cameron Diaz. Roberts, in a manner of speaking, loses her shit. The movie is endearing, as it must be following the Julia Roberts Big Hair Theorem whereby Julia Roberts with big, curly hair = good movie (Pretty Woman, Erin Brokovitch, Charlie Wilson’s War) and Julia Roberts with limp, straight locks = bad movie (Hook, I Love Trouble, America’s Sweathearts). Also, it’s considerably perkier than Roberts’ other wedding/marriage movie, Closer, which I think you’ll agree made the institution appear decidedly less appealing, what with its lack of Dionne Warwick sing-a-longs.
The requisite wackiness ensues as Roberts races around scenic Chicago locations trying to undo Mulroney’s impending nuptials. It’s telling perhaps that I’ve always identified with Roberts’ character, as opposed to Diaz’ bright-eyed bride. To quote the film, one is Jell-O (Roberts), the other is crème brûlée (Diaz), and “crème brûlée can never be Jell-O.” As a bride, I’m learning, you are indeed either crème brûlée or you’re Jell-O. You either knew what color your centerpieces were going to be when you were 15, or you knew that you’d rather be drinking with your best friend the groom the night before the wedding.
This movie left a legacy of sorts. It giveth—by introducing Rupert Everett to American audiences—and it taketh away—by introducing Cameron Diaz to American audiences. (Oddly enough, by playing a character who was supposed to be vaguely annoying, it was the last time in Diaz’ career that she herself wasn’t completely annoying.) Other noteworthy cameos: Six Feet Under‘s Rachel Griffiths as a twangy Texas socialite and Paul Giamatti as a hotel bellman (trust me, he’s in there.)
But its most compelling moments come when the aforementioned Everett and another actress named Carrie Preston, at separate moments, utter the two best lines in the movie:
Preston: “Oh my God, it’s the bride and the woman she’ll never live up to.”
Everett: “It’s amazing the clarity that comes with psychotic jealousy.”
Because sometimes weddings, for whatever reason, make us want to claw our eyeballs out. Kudos to Hollywood for actually somewhat reverently capturing that here. And kudos to those who stick with us, smile at us, and tell us yes, it really will be a lovely wedding, when they’re the ones who want to do the clawing.